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COVID-19 and Cultural Life in Bahrain

A Person Reflection

by Mayasa Al Sowaidi

With the movement of people limited; museums, theatres and heritage sites have all been halted due to the crises that struck the cultural life and tourism industry. COVID-19 took the whole world by surprise. No one was prepared for the crisis and thoughts of when will it end lingers on every single person’s mind.

 

We, as human beings, share this issue with all individuals across the world. As an artist, field exhibitions, events and performances are either cancelled or postponed. In order to keep the creative spirit alive, intensive efforts to provide alternatives through digital platforms are visible. In the case of Bahraini artists, we have maintained a positive attitude and proactively participate in online events that allow us to continue exchanging ideas and convey our creativity between each other and to the online presence.

 

Additionally, art has been keeping us all motivated and alive. visuals, tangible items of all shapes and sizes, and our everyday creations empower us to overcome this void that has been left due to the COVID-19. With the assistance of art, we can feel limitless, even during the lockdown. After all, we are vulnerable individuals that suffered from sudden detachment from our daily routines.

 

Yet, I still consider this period a golden phase for artistic and creative production in general, for I am one who took advantage of this period of creativity and as the writer Daniel Carnegie says ‘the ideas of a positive man do not end, and the negative however has no end to his excuses.’ An example of this is seen through one of Picasso’s most influential pieces that he drew in only in black and white. It was a result of what happened in the village of Guernica after the extermination of 2,000 people and the destruction of an entire village.

 

Like the Ying-Yang philosophy, this issue can be viewed through the same lenses. Due to the cancelation of most social events and postponed deadlines, artists can now dedicate a considerable amount of time to further discovering themselves. Related to Picasso’s art, this enables them to push their limits by stepping out of their comfort zones and attempt different types of art and all forms of artistic expressions.

 

Schopenhauer says, that ‘The less one has to have contact with others, the better for him.’  Personally, I could not agree more. By having less contact with the outside world and more time to myself, I was able to become more productive. Adding all those tiny details on my artwork, writing articles and reading all of the books left unread on the shelfs for months.

 

I was also able to further my understanding on many topics all thanks to the unity and compassionate academic world. Universities and organisations started to offer unlimited workshops and courses for free. I was able to widen my scope of understanding in topics such as history, world affairs, art and heritage. It is very fascinating to see how every sector played a role in combating the results caused by the pandemic. Another factor that also played a significant role is social media. This pandemic has almost eradicated all communication with society, even with family members, but social media has played a significant role in giving us this tool to remain connected despite these circumstances.

 

To Heal the World (15 June-18 August 2020) is one of many virtual exhibitions that I recently participated in—it is an international online artistic reflection on mending the damage to our global family (https://www.oncaravan.org/tohealtheworld). Another art exhibition arranged by  the US Embassy in Bahrain, is in collaboration with Bahrain Arts society, and titled “Creativity in the Age of Crona virus exhibition.” Also, social media played a vital role in spreading art during this period @makan.artgallery is another virtual art exhibition where I exhibit three artworks.

 

Instagram @mayasa205

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Mayasa Sultan Al Sowaidi is a self-taught artist from the Kingdom of Bahrain. She earned a BS degree in Mathematics from the University of Bahrain and an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology. With a background in mathematics, balance and order are important components of her artistic practice. Al Sowaidi is a member of the Bahrain Art Society and has participated in numerous exhibitions in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Dubai and Oman.  She has been recognised with numerous other prizes and awards. 

20 July 2020

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